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Theodicy - Books of Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs

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Does Theodicy mean the same in the Books of Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs?

Our study group is having a difficult time distinguishing the difference.

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Solution Summary

This solution examines the meaning of the concept of theodicy as related to the Books of Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs e..g reson for suffering, etc.

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1. Your question is this: "Does THEODICY mean the same in the Books of Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs? Our study group is having a difficult time distinguishing the difference?"

First, there is no right or wrong answer here. Different theological orientations explain suffering (theodicy) in many different ways. Saying this, this question is about the books considered wisdom literature. They are works of Hebrew poetry, primarily written during the "high period" of the Jewish united monarchy: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes.

"The fear of the Lord:" Solomon was the king who prayed for wisdom. These works focus on general truths, and are not to be understood as without exception. The major unifying theme in both of Ecclesiates and Proverbs is the notion of the "fear of the Lord." The fear of the Lord is not terror, but awe of the Lord which arises from a proper understanding of his nature. Used 143 times with hundreds of other variants, the concept in included in historical narrative, prophets and wisdom literature, including 24 times in Psalms and 18 times in Proverbs. The Proverbs and Ecclesiastes both show the importance of the fear of the Lord in the practical affairs of life.

Mathuna (1999, in an article titled, Why me, God?' Understanding suffering," he explores a number of theodicies that have been developed by theists (see attachment for full article). He notes that each theodicy does not necessarily seek to explain all suffering, or claim to be better than all the others, but seeks to explain certain instances of suffering. One simple answer to the problem of suffering does not exist. But, when taken in combination, these theodicies provide many reasons for believing that an all-loving, all-powerful God does exist and that he wants to comfort people and care for them in the midst of their suffering. However, Christians need to evaluate each of these theodicies since they are not equally consistent with the Bible (see attachment for full article). This author discusses the following explanations for suffering:

1. The Free Will Defence
2. Punishment Theodicy
3. Repentance Theodicy
4. Character Building Theodicy
5. Demon Theodicy
6. Knowledge and Experience Theodicy
7. Natural Law Theodicy
8. Evidential Form of the Problem
9. Gratuitous Evil

Other theodicies (and probably others not listed):

10. Lacking fear of the Lord
11. Tested by Satan
12. The Freedom of God

The Book of Job

The interpretations of this book are somewhat controversial and open to interpretation. It is, however, very clear that suffering is not sent as punishment from God, at least not for Job. In the Book of Job, Eliphaz tried to convince Job (Job 4:7-8; 15:24-25) that his misfortunes were the result of his sin and that if he repented all would be well. But Job denied that this was the case, and was later vindicated by God (Job 42:7). In fact, Job never finds out the reason for his suffering.
<br>In fact, James in the New Testament used Job as an example of those who learn happiness from the school of suffering: "Behold, we call those happy who hold steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how ...

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